Chosen One, 62

The World Is Rarely So Kind as to Provide Clear Moral Choices

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Isaac felt like throwing up and all he was doing was standing in a hallway.

“I don’t know if I can do this yet,” Isaac said, hugging himself, looking at the door. His door. Saul’s door.

Peter rubbed his back. “I know. I don’t know if I can either. But we can’t leave it any longer, Isaac.”

Isaac nodded. He knew that. He knew they couldn’t. They had to talk to Saul, and they had to decide what to do. Even though they already knew what to do—Isaac should have gone to the archmage right away after learning about Saul. But he hadn’t, and now here he was. “Peter…”

“I know, it’s hard.” Peter whispered. “I don’t want to do it either. But we have to, Isaac.”

“Yeah. Listen, I need you to…” Isaac trailed off, not sure what he needed. Or not sure how to put it into words. “I’m not smart enough for this.”

“I think you’re plenty smart enough for this. That’s not the problem.”

“The problem is that I’m too nice,” Isaac muttered, looking at his feet. “I know.”

“Yeah. Being nice isn’t a problem, Isaac. It’s just…”

“It’s a problem when someone tries to take advantage of me and I’m not smart enough to see through it,” Isaac finished. “Peter, I need you to make sure I’m not too nice. The more he apologizes and cries and says it’s not his fault, the more I’m going to feel bad for him.”

Peter nodded, taking Isaac’s hand now. “I know you will. You sympathize with everyone. It’s something I love about you.” He sighed. “I’ll try to make sure you don’t do it too much. And you try and make sure I’m not too suspicious and mean, okay? He is still our friend. Maybe.”

“Okay,” Isaac said, nodding. “Okay. I love you.”

“I love you too. Let’s go in.”

“Yeah.” Isaac raised his other hand to knock on the door, then remembered it was his door. And instead he reached down and opened it quietly. His hand tingled as he did, a crawling sensation on his skin and Isaac saw one of the same threads of energy that Sam had used vibrate. A ward on the door, one nobody at the academy would be able to see. Saul was scared.

Good. Let him be scared. Isaac went inside.

He was sitting on his bed, looking at the door, pale. Skip was down on the floor as if to jump on whoever came in, and only relaxed slightly when Isaac and Peter did. They didn’t say anything. Silently, Saul came down from his bed, stood there.

Isaac shut he door behind him. “You don’t…you don’t look like your brother much.” Saul was skinnier, longer in the face, and his skin lighter. There was a bit of a resemblance now that Isaac looked, but it was slight.

“We’re half-brothers,” Saul said, not quite looking at Isaac. “Sam’s mother was from Endwan. Mine was from White Cape.”


“My father kills women when he’s done with them. He doesn’t…like women very much.”

At least he wasn’t making it easy to be sympathetic. “Women probably don’t like him very much either,” Peter said.

“Nobody likes him very much,” Saul said. “I don’t…he’s a bad person. It’s why I can’t…I don’t want to…”

Shit. “Saul,” Isaac said, closing his eyes. “Can you sit down?”


“Sit down,” Isaac repeated, waiting until he heard Saul move. He gestured for Skip to sit beside him, and Skip did. It seemed like he really cared about Saul. Sleeping on Isaac’s bed, Baker lifted his head. “Look, I’m mad at you, but this is shitty and you should hear it from someone you care about more than me, but…your dad’s dead.”

“I…what?” Saul whispered, taking Skip’s hand. He started to rise, then sat back down. “What?”

“How do you know?” Skip asked Isaac.

“The archmage told me, he heard it from Cameron. She heard it from…another witch she knows.” He didn’t want to say James’s name, just in case. It had just occurred to Isaac that James knew Sam too. Maybe they could compare notes. “He knows because Sam told him. He’s the one who killed him. It was a while ago now that it happened. So…I’m sorry about that. I know he was a bad person, but he was still your dad. So I’m sorry.”

Isaac had expected to feel hollow, but instead he felt bad. He wished he hadn’t had to do that.

Saul looked hollow though, staring at the floor. Some tears were collecting in his eyes, but he shook his head. “It’s…that’s probably good. He’s…fuck.” Spencer shut his eyes, letting Skip hold him. “Fuck. Sam being in charge is bad. He’s unstable. He’s just a kid, and we were always all so hard on him. He’s messed up and he’s really dangerous.”

“I know,” Isaac said. He went and sat on one of the chests, and Peter came with him. “Lee wants to help him instead of just killing him. I think she’s right.”

“I don’t know. He won’t want to be helped, but…he won’t know anything about my dad’s plans or anything. He won’t know what he’s doing. He’ll be overwhelmed, he’ll be…”

“How long ago is a while?” Skip asked quietly, watching Isaac carefully.

“Does it matter?” Peter asked.

“Probably around the time Christopher attacked the Vault,” Isaac said. “We’re not sure. Maybe just after that.”

“Saul,” Skip said gently, leaning in. “You’ve had letters from your dad since then.”

“I’ve had…” Saul stopped, a frown creasing his face. He looked at Skip. “Oh. Sam sent then. Oh, no.”

“He came here to check up on you,” Isaac said. “That’s what he told me.”

“His last letter said he’d be getting me to come home soon. He…”

“You can’t go back there, Saul,” Skip said. “He’ll kill you.”

Spencer nodded, hands making fists. “I know. I deserve it anyway. I was awful to him.”

“You don’t…”

Peter spoke over Isaac before Isaac could finish that. “Why did your dad want you to spy on the chosen one?”

Isaac glanced at Peter, but let him go on. Maybe he’d been starting to be too nice. Saul was so obviously sad. It was hard.

Saul inhaled a long breath. “I don’t know. Maybe so he could know what he was up against in case he was really powerful? He was planning to steal that stone from the Vault already, and maybe he thought the archmage would give it to the chosen one or something. But he never really told me that, just to keep an eye on him. Dad never…shared. He didn’t tell us any more than he thought we needed to know.”

“Was he surprised when you told him there were three of us?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know,” Saul said. “His return letter didn’t say anything about it except that he was glad I was making friends. We wrote in…code, I guess, in case someone saw the letters.”

“Did you tell him our names?” Isaac asked quietly.

Saul didn’t answer, which was enough of an answer for Isaac.

“How did he know?” Peter asked, before Isaac could say anything else. “How did your dad know the chosen one was going to be here? You’re in the same class as us—in fact, you arrived at the academy before Isaac and Nicholas. I’d only been here a week. How did he know?”

“I…never thought about that,” Saul admitted. “Now I feel stupid—maybe he knew something about the prophecy, or somebody told him?”

“Somebody at the academy?” Isaac asked.

That made Saul fall quiet. Skip shifted beside him. “Saul…”

“Maybe,” Saul said. “Maybe it was. I didn’t know about Christopher. I swear I didn’t know about that, Isaac. I assumed he was sending me because he didn’t have someone else in here. I never knew he’d planned any of that.”

“So he sent you here and he didn’t even trust you,” Peter muttered.

“Peter.” Isaac put a hand on his leg, watching Saul’s expression fall even farther. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he asked. “After Christopher. That would have been a good time to say something.”

“I was too scared. I’ve always been too scared.” Saul shut his eyes. “I’ve always been a coward.”

“You being a coward could have gotten someone killed,” Peter said, firmly.

“He’s trying,” said Skip, glaring at Peter. “You can see that he’s trying. He told us, didn’t he? He could have just run away. He didn’t have to say anything.”

“He also didn’t have to lie,” Isaac said, more angrily than he meant to.

“You’re angrier about that than you are anything else, aren’t you?” Skip asked, shaking his head. “Did you even stop to wonder why he lied?”

“Skip, it’s okay,” Spencer said. “He’s right to be angry. I did lie to him. I’d be angry too.”

“Being contrite isn’t going to make us stop being mad at you,” Peter told him. “And frankly I don’t buy it anyway.”

Isaac did, but he’d told Peter not to let him be too nice. “You have to tell the academy, Saul. The archmage and all of them.”

“I know.” Saul took a breath that hitched. He was hanging his head. “I know I do. I will. I promise I will. I just…I need a few days, okay? Just a little while.”

“That’s not…”

“Fine,” Isaac said, standing up. “That’s fine. Just a little while, though. If you don’t say something soon, I will.”

“That’s fair. I’m…surprised you didn’t already.”

“Part of me still remembers when we were friends.”

That seemed to strike Saul, and he hugged himself, tears collecting in his eyes. Isaac had to look away as Saul nodded.

“I’ll come with you,” he said as he headed for the door. “When you tell them, if you want me to I’ll go with you.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Saul whispered.

“I know. I don’t say things I don’t mean.” Isaac stepped out into the hallway, already feeling bad about that. That had been mean. “Dammit,” he said in the hallway, after the door was shut.

“You did well,” Peter said, voice low.

“Then why do I feel like shit?” He still wanted to throw up.

“Because it’s a shitty situation. If he doesn’t tell the archmage soon…”

“Yeah,” Isaac said, turning away from the room and heading off. “I know.”

Inside the room, he could hear Saul crying.

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